English Service: +1-800-721-6301
Non-English: +1-800-721-0650
Fax: +1-888-792-1211
Bookmark Contact Us

Managing Obesity

CATEGORY: Weight Loss

Author: Dr. Amol More, BAMS, MD (AM)

Obesity is  one  of the fastest spreading  Non-communicable disease today. It is a condition of excessive fat, either generalized or localized.  A person who is 20% more than his Ideal Body Weight(IBW) is considered to be an obese person. Usually OBESITY is due to positive energy balance.  That is, the intake of calories is more than the expenditure of calories.

Recognized since 1985 as a disease with serious health implications, OBESITY is a leading cause of preventable death, second only to cigarette smoking.  Obesity has been established as a major risk factor for Hypertension, Cardiovascular Diseases, Diabetes Mellitus and some Cancers in both men and women. It affects a large number of urban population and its prevalence is increasing. Obesity is found in all age groups irrespective of sex, caste and creed, though it is still considered to be a disease of the upper class.

Obesity  is now regarded as a chronic disease caused by a complex set of factors such as Hereditary factors, Improper eating habits, Lack of physical activity, Hormonal imbalance, Stress, Lifestyle disorder, etc.

Obesity of a person is determined by his Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is the standard used by researchers to define a persons weight according to his height. An individual is considered to be overweight if his BMI is between 25 & 29. He is said to be obese if BMI is between 30 & 34. BMI more than 35 is significantly obese or grade II obesity, and so on. A person with BMI between 20 & 24 is considered to be ideal or healthy.

Increase in body weight leads to various other  health hazards such as Hypertension, Diabetes, Cardiac Disorders, Hyperlipidemia, Infertility, Sexual Dysfunction, Bone & Joint Disorders,etc,etc.

Loosing weight is a very lengthy process and it has to be done in a very systematic and natural way.  Yoga along with proper eating habits and certain changes in our lifestyle gives excellent results in weight loss. As with all exercise programs, it is advised people consult their healthcare professional before beginning yoga and pranayama.

Various Asanas along with SuryaNamaskar (salute to the sun) and Pranayama (breathing exercises) are advised to reduce weight.

Any obese person is advised to start their regime with Pranayama i.e. deep breathing exercises. It is a well known fact that most obese people get tired easily on doing any sort of physical activity such as running or even brisk walking.

Hence it is necessary to increase the capacity of the body to perform physical activity. This is achieved with the help of Pranayama. Deep Breathing Exercise helps in increasing the oxygen carrying capacity of the cells. It also improves Blood Circulation, providing more oxygen to each cell helps in combustion thus increasing the cellular activity and helping in burning of fat cells. It also helps in increasing the Lung capacity which help them to perform heavy activities in the future.

Pranayama is done in systematically to get better results. It is divided into 3 steps-Puraka (Inhalation of Air), Kumbhaka (Restoration of Air into Lungs) and  Rechaka (Exhalation of Air).

Pranayama and yoga should be studied with qualified teachers as straining during these therapies can result in serious injury.

According to some authorities breath retention can be very dangerous, especially with any pressure health issues (e.g. HBP, ear/eye sinus pressure). Other professionals advise breath retention. Here is one view: a person closes their eyes and concentrate fully on the breathing process. Initially to begin with, all puraka, Kumbhaka, and rechaka can be of the same duration.

For e.g. say 5 counts or 5 seconds each,

    puraka – 5 counts           

    kumbhaka – 5 counts

    rechaka – 5 counts

After practicing this for about one week, the duration of kumbhaka is gradually reduced & duration of rechaka increased, keeping puraka same.

    5   : 4  : 6

    5   : 3  : 7

    5   : 2  : 8

    5   : 1  : 9

    5   : 0  : 10

The final proportion should be Rechaka twice that of Puraka without any Kumbhaka (1 : 0 : 2).

It means that there is only extensive inhalation and exhalation of air. In addition to this, one can also do Abdominal Breathing , Thoracic Breathing and Clavicular Breathing  under supervision of experts, for better results.

According to this system, after doing Pranayama for about 2 weeks, one can start with various asanas. It is advisable to start with 2 asanas per week along with Shavasana and increasing the number of asanas gradually.

People with high blood pressure and other health issues should discuss their issues with their teacher prior to beginning yoga.

Following is the list of asanas that can be performed in gradual descending order:

1. Ekpada Uttan Asana.

2. Dwipada Uttanpada Asana

3. Bhujanga Asana

4. Shalabha Asana

5. Santulana Asana

6. Pawanmukta Asana

7. Suryanamaskar Asana

8. Dhanur Asana

9. Ardha Vakra Asana

10. Paschimottana Asana

11. Supta Vajra Asana

12. Matsyendra Asana

13. Manduk Asana

14. Shava Asana

Surya namaskar Asana ( salute to the sun god) is considered to be the best asana for the wellbeing of a person. It consists of 12 different postures, each of which is associated with a sign of  Zodiac.

It stretches the body in different ways thus reducing fat from different areas. It gives flexibility to the body and can be done even by children or elder persons irrespective of age and gender. SuryaNamaskar, if  done with recital of a specific “mantra of the Sungod” gives excellent results.

Along with Yoga practice, it is also very essential to follow certain dietary norms & changes in lifestyle. Following an Ayurvedic food plan according to your dosh will go a long way to safely and quickly balance weight. According to this author, it is advisable to avoid rice, sugar, sweets, fermented and oily foods. Potatoes, corn, beetroot and peas are also to be avoided.

Intake of vegetables and salads should be more. One bowl of fruit servings such as apple, pear or orange (other than mango, banana, chickoo, grapes, custardapple, strawberry) can be had. Fruit juices are to be avoided but vegetable juices can be consumed. Paneer or tofu can be had in small quantities , but no cheese or butter.

Cereals such as bran , millet, soy should be included. Bread should be of whole wheat. It is better to stick to vegetarian food. If not possible, white chicken-grilled or roasted , fish such as tuna or salmon again grilled or roasted can be consumed. Red meat and shellfish such as lobsters, prawns, oysters are to be avoided. 1 or 2 egg whites can be included in breakfast.

Alcohol is better avoided but one can have white rum or vodka once in a while. Smoking should be totally stopped. 10 to12 glasses of water should be had daily.

There are many Ayurvedic herbs that help dissolve fat and improve digestion. These are  best to discuss with an Ayurvedic practitioner who can determine your best herbs and food plan for your dosha.

Certain Dos & Dont's:

1. Make Lifestyle changes a priority .

2. Motivate yourself, be focused.

3. Set small goals & try to achieve them first.

4. Get up early in the morning.

5. Do yogasanas and light exercises daily.

6. Have fixed lunch and dinner timings.

7. Eat at regular intervals.

8. Do not sleep in the afternoon.

9. Do not sit immediately after dinner. Walk for at least 10 minutes post dinner.

10. Do weekend chores the physical way-use a mop to clean the floor, wash your windows, wash your car manually.

11. Play outdoor games with your children instead of just watching them play.

12. Always consult your Doctor before starting any heavy exercise regime.

13. Find and follow your life purpose

14. Deepen your spiritual life


Loosing weight is a long and tedious process. People get demotivated and frustruated easily. Hence it is the duty of each and every member of the family to see that he follows his new lifestyle religiously and patiently without getting dejected.

Last but not the least "Always keep Smiling" it helps in burning a lot of calories.